Easter at Little Flowers Community
While this is our second Easter as a congregation, last year most people were away with family. Therefore, we are really excited that this year will be having our first real Easter at Little Flowers Community. For those who aren’t familiar, every Sunday we come together for a potluck meal followed by a time of worship and teaching (which happens in the round in a more dialogical style). After that, we generally hang out for the evening. This year, however, we’ve integrated the meal with the service. While a description can’t give you the full experience, I thought I would share an outline of what it was like.
Throughout the early afternoon, people begin to trickle in, usually with their contribution to the potluck in various states of preparedness. Then the dance of cooking a half dozen meals in our small kitchen begins. Others hang out in the living room/dining room, making conversation or setting the tables. This week, we’ve managed to set things up so that up to 25 of us can sit around one “table”. As 5:30 approaches, the house begins to fill with wonderful sounds and smells.
Once everyone gathers around the table, I stand and welcome them, opening the evening with a prayer. After explaining how tonight will be a different, I sit and another person stands and reads from Isaiah 51:9-11:
Awake, awake, put on strength,
O arm of the LORD!
Awake, as in days of old,
the generations of long ago!
Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces,
who pierced the dragon?
Was it not you who dried up the sea,
the waters of the great deep;
who made the depths of the sea a way
for the redeemed to cross over?
So the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
We then raise our voices together in the Easter hymn, “Man of Sorrows”. It is a traditional hymn, unusual for a church where the median age is 24. However, it is deeply fitting on this occasion. When we are done singing, another person stands and reads:
Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!
Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendour,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!
Rejoice, O Body, O Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Saviour shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!
For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our eternal Father!
Here I say the blessing over the meal:
God in our waking, God in our speaking;
God in our cooking, God in our eating;
God in our playing, God in our digesting;
God in our working, God in our Resting.
In a world where so many are hungry,
May we eat this food with humble hearts;
In a world where so many are lonely,
May we share this friendship with joyful hearts. Amen!
And then we eat the meal. Usually our potluck is a very eclectic collection of very random foods (which is wonderful), but this time we arranged for a more “traditional” Easter meal. The conversation is always great, if perhaps somewhat atypical to your expected Sunday conversation.
As the meal finishes, it is here that I stand to led us in Communion. The following is taken (and adapted) from a traditional Anabaptist service:
Sisters & Brothers, if we choose to love God before, in, and above all things, in the power of His holy and living Word, serve Him alone, honour and adore Him and henceforth sanctify His name, submitting our sinful will to His divine will which He has worked in us by His living Word, in life and death, then let each say individually: “I will.”
If we will love our neighbour and serve them with deeds of genuine love, lay down and shed for them our life and blood, be obedient to all godly authorities according to the will of God, and this in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, who laid down and shed His flesh and blood for us, then let us say together: “We will.”
If we will practice mutual accountability with our brothers and sisters, make peace and unity among them, and reconcile ourselves with all those whom we have offended, abandon all envy, hate, and evil will toward everyone, willingly cease all action and behaviour which causes harm, disadvantage, or offence to our neighbour; and if we will also love our enemies and do good to them, then let each say together: “We will.”
If we desire publicly to confirm before this community of Christ this pledge of love which we will now make, through the Lord’s Supper of Christ, by eating bread and drinking wine, and to testify to it in the power of the living memorial of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ our Lord, then let each say together: “We will”
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” (Here we break the bread and share it among us)
“Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Here we raise our glasses and share the cup of Christ)
Therefore, Sisters & Brothers, let us eat and drink with one another in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. May God Himself accord to all of us the power and the strength that we may worthily carry it out and bring it to its saving conclusion according to his divine will. May the Lord impart his grace.
In the name of the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit, Amen.
As we finish Communion, we sing our next song, “There Is A Redeemer”, followed by this reading:
This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.
This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.
This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!
This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.
This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.
When the meal is done, we sing “Up From The Grave”, then someone rises and reads from Luke 24:1-10:
On the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body.
While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”
Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.
After the final hymn, “He Lives”, we all rise for the Benediction:
Most blessed of all nights, chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!
The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.
Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!
May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
This we declare in the name of the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit.
We finish the evening with announcements (as every good church must have), then hang out for the evening as we share our dessert together. I hope you enjoyed sharing the evening with us.